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Why Your Weather Forecasts May Soon Become More Accurate

Satellite view of Hurricane Ian just before striking near Fort Myers in 2022. (NOAA)

By Dan Stillman

A new computer model to predict the weather built by Google and powered by artificial intelligence consistently outperforms and is many times faster than government models that have existed for decades and involved hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, according to a study published Tuesday.

The Google model even displayed accuracy superior to the “European model,” widely considered the gold standard.
The study, published in the journal Science, showed the AI model to be more accurate for forecasts of both day-to-day weather and extreme events, such as hurricanes and intense heat and cold.

Its stellar performance and promising results from other AI models like it may signify the start of a new era for weather prediction, although experts say it doesn’t mean AI is ready to replace all traditional forecasting methods.

The study’s results are similar to those in an academic article published in August in the online database arXiv.

“To be competitive with arguably the best global prediction system, if not outperforming it, is astonishing,” Aaron Hill, lead developer of Colorado State University’s machine learning prediction system, said in an email. “You can safely add GraphCast to a growing list of AI-based weather prediction models that should see continued evaluation for their application in industry, research and operational forecasting.”

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